At the Jan. 8th meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 6C), commissioners voted to oppose zoning exemption relief for a three-story addition to an existing rowhouse at 719 Sixth Street NE. The hitch? The addition has already been completed, and more than that, extends 13 feet past the rear façade of the neighboring building. That’s three feet more than permitted by right, requiring the applicant to get relief to the rear addition requirements of the zoning code.
The applicant said the error had been made during the planning stages by the architect, who had believed the rear of the neighboring building to be in line with the original structure. The applicant said he therefore was led to believe no exemption was necessary prior to construction. However, representatives on the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development (PZ&E) Committee noted in their meeting the week prior that anyone visiting the site could see that the two buildings were not in line.
At the ANC meeting, PZ&E Chair Mark Eckenwiler (6C04) said that representatives from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) had pointed out that the project might be in violation of the Zoning Code during the permit application process. Commissioners said that this possibility should have been investigated by either the applicant or his representatives before building.
While the applicant argued that the commission’s refusal to endorse a zoning exemption would be a financial hardship for him, commissioners said that granting an exemption for an addition after it was built would set a bad precedent, perhaps leading others to believe that they can build regardless of regulation and seek forgiveness after the fact.
The application was unanimously opposed by commissioners, who instead supported a letter to DCRA advising the agency’s Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration (OPLA) to examine the credentials of the architect credited with the drawings in the application.
Oversight Hearing Comments Approved
The commission unanimously authorized written testimony to be submitted at upcoming DC Council performance oversight hearings for the District agencies to be held between Jan. 9 and Feb. 27. Comments and recommendations for particular agencies included:
Department of Public Works:
- Improvements are necessary to the process for holiday greenery collection
- Improve the ways road medians are cleaned (suggest they approach Business Improvement Districts [BIDs] in regard to latter)
Bicycle Advisory Council:
- Clarity needed as to who represents the new micromobility devices, i.e. scooters
District Department of Transportation:
- Increased coordination required between agencies on roadway projects
- Prioritize repair and re-paving of roads after construction
- Improve internal and external communication about projects
- Publicize street conditions and grading
- Place central posts in two-way bike lanes to discourage the entry of vehicles
Commissioners voted to support items on the consent agenda, including:
- protest an application to change a liquor license from restaurant to tavern designation and protest the application by Burger Bar (707 H St. NE)
- support an application for reinstatement of the liquor license for Bistro Cacao (320 Massachusetts Ave. NE)
- oppose a Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) application for a variance to allow for 72 percent lot occupancy for a rear addition at 727 Seventh St. NE. The maximum lot occupancy permitted by right is 60 percent. PZ&E Committee members argued that the lot is perfectly rectangular and has no unusual condition and that the variance test was therefore not met.
The commission voted 5-1 to support a BZA application regarding a third-story addition at 1026 Fourth St. NE, asking for a special exception allowing them to build an addition on the side yard, as well as to remove an existing architectural rooftop element. The applicant agreed to reduce the proposed bay window to two stories. The commission decided that this reduction, together with the varied rowhouses on the street, did not have an adverse impact on the character, scale and pattern of the streetscape. However, they asked whether the work would be so extensive as to be considered a raze for practical purposes, meaning that at least 40 percent of the exterior walls would be retained. Commissioners unanimously supported a letter asking the BZA to consider this question.
Officer and Executive Elections
The Commission voted to re-elect the current slate of officers and committee chairs, including:
- Karen Wirt (6C02), Chair
- Mark Eckenwiler (6C04), Vice-Chair
- Christine Healey (6C01), Secretary
- Joel Kelty (6C05), Treasurer
- Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Committee, Chair Steve O’Neal
- Environment, Parks and Events Committee, Chair Joe McCann
- Grants Committee, Chair Victoria Lord
- Planning Zoning and Economic Development Committee, Chair Mark Eckenwiler
- Transportation and Public Space, Chair Christy Kwan
All six members of ANC 6C were present at the Jan. 8th meeting: Christine Healey (Secretary, 6C01), Karen Wirt (Chair, 6C02), Jay Adelstein (6C03), Mark Eckenwiler (Vice-Chair, 6C04), Joel Kelty (6C05), Treasurer) and Drew Courtney (6C06).
ANC 6C meets at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month (except August) in the ground floor conference room at the Heritage Foundation (214 Massachusetts Ave. NE). ANCs do not meet in August. The next meeting of ANC 6C takes place 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 12. Learn more at anc6c.org.